W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso

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§ 3.—Fables.

1.—The Fable of the Shark and the Large Lizard—(Guana).

In days of yore the large lizard and the shark lived together in the sea, for they were brothers, both being of the children of Punga.330 The lizard was the elder and the shark the younger. After some time they fell out, and as the quarrel was great and protracted, the lizard, vexed at the conduct of his younger brother, determined to leave off dwelling in the sea, and to reside on the dry land, so he left the water.331 But just as he had got on the shore, his brother the shark swam up to where he was on a rock, and wished him to return, saying—“Let you and I go out to sea, to the deep water.” The lizard replied, with a bitter curse, saying—“Go thou to the sea, that thou mayst become a relish of fish for the basket of cooked roots.332 On this, the shark retorted with another curse, saying—“Go thou on shore that thou mayst be smothered with the smoke of the fire of green fern.”333 Then the lizard replied, with a laugh, “Indeed, I will go on shore, away up to the dry land, where I shall be looked upon as the personification of the demon-god Tu,334 with my spines and ridgy crest causing fear and affright, so that all will gladly get out of my way, hurrah!”

2. The Battle of the Birds.—(A Fable of the Olden Time.)

In ancient days, two shags met on the seaside. One was a salt-water bird and the other was a fresh-water bird; nevertheless, they were both shags, living alike on fish which they caught in the water, although they differed a little in the colour of their feathers. The river-bird, seeing the sea-bird go into the sea for the purpose of fishing food for itself, did the [102] same. They both dived repeatedly, seeking food for themselves, for they were hungry; indeed, the river-bird dived ten times, and caught nothing. Then the river-bird said to his companion, “If it were but my own home, I should just pop under water and find food directly; there never could be a single diving there without finding food.” To which remark his companion simply said, “Just so.” Then the river-bird said to the other, “Yes, thy home here in the sea is one without any food.” To this insulting observation the sea-bird made no reply. Then the river-bird said to the other, “Come along with me to my home; you and I fly together.” On this both birds flew off, and kept flying till they got to a river, where they dropped. Both dived, and both rose, having each a fish in its bill; then they dived together ten times, and every time they rose together with a fish in their bills. This done the sea-bird flew away back to its own home. Arriving there it immediately sent heralds in all directions to all the birds of the ocean, to lose no time but to assemble and kill all the fresh-water birds, and all the birds of the dry land and the forests. The sea-birds hearing this assented, and were soon gathered together for the fray. In the meanwhile, the river-birds and the land and forest birds were not idle; they also assembled from all quarters, and were preparing to repel their foes.

Ere long the immense army of the sea-birds appeared, sweeping along grandly from one side of the heavens to the other, making such a terrible noise with their wings and cries. On their first appearing, the long-tail fly-catcher (Rhipidura flabellifera) got into a towering passion, being desirous of spearing the foe, and danced about presenting his spear on all sides, crying “Ti! ti?335 Then the furious charge was made by the sea-birds. In the first rank came, swooping down with their mighty wings, the albatross, the gannet, and the big brown gull (ngoiro), with many others closely following; indeed, all the birds of the sea. Then they charged at close quarters, and fought bird with bird. How the blood flowed and the feathers flew! The river-birds came on in close phalanx, and dashed bravely right into their foes. They all stood to it for a long time, fighting desperately. Such a sight! At last the sea-birds gave way, and fled in confusion. Then it was that the hawk soared down upon them, pursuing and killing; and the fleet sparrow-hawk darted in and out among the fugitives, tearing and ripping; while the owl, who could not fly by day, encouraged, by hooting derisively, “Thou art brave! thou art victor!”;336 and the big parrot screamed, “Remember! remember! Be you ever remembering your thrashing!”337 [103]

In that great battle, those two birds, the tiitii (Haladroma urinatrix = petrel), and the taiko,338 were made prisoners by the river-birds; and hence it is that these two birds always lay their eggs and rear their young in the woods among the land-birds. The tiitii (petrel) goes to sea, and stays away there for a whole moon (lunar month), and when she is full of oil, for her young in the forests, she returns to feed them, which is once every moon. From this circumstance arose with our ancestors the old adage, which has come down to us, “He tiitii whangainga tahi;” literally, A tiitii of one feeding; meaning, Even as a tiitii bird gets fat though only fed well once now and then.339

Appendix.—Note to p. 82.

This is an astonishing fact, but it is strictly true, though, I believe, scarcely known. I, therefore, with great pleasure, give in a note an extract or two from an interesting letter “On the Native Songs of New Zealand,” written nearly twenty-five years ago, by a talented musician and author of several works on music (Mr. J.H. Davies, of Trinity College, Cambridge), which letter was printed as an appendix to one of Sir G. Grey’s works on New Zealand; and though highly worthy of being read and of being deeply studied—especially by a trained musician—it is, I fear, but very little known among us. [104]

First, Mr. Davies writes of “the enharmonic scale of the ancient Greeks” (which has long been lost, and which, indeed, has been disputed), that “it consisted of a quarter-tone, a quarter-tone and an interval of two tones, an interval somewhat greater than our third major;” and that this long-lost ancient scale has been found to exist among the Arabians, the Chinese, and the New Zealanders.

“As the highest art is to conceal the art and to imitate nature, that mighty nation the Greeks, with an art almost peculiarly their own, having observed these expressions of natural sentiment,” stated fully in the preceding paragraph, “thence deduced certain laws of interval, by which, while they kept within the limits of art, they took care not to transgress those of nature, but judiciously to adopt, and as nearly as possible to define, with mathematical exactness, those intervals which the uncultured only approach by the irregular modulation of natural impulses. ... Hence, I conceive the reason of the remnant of that scale being found among most of those nations who have been left to the impulses of a ‘naturetaught’ song rather than been cramped by the trammels of a conventional system—the result of education and of civilization.”

Plutarch remarks, that the most beautiful of the musical genera is the enharmonic, on account of its grave and solemn character, and that it was formerly most in esteem. Aristides Quintilian tells us it was the most difficult of all, and required a most excellent ear. Aristoxenus observes that it was so difficult that no one could sing more than two dieses consecutively, and yet the perceptions of a Greek audience were fully awake to, and their judgment could appreciate, a want of exactness in execution.”

“Mr. Lay Tradescant, speaking of the Chinese intervals, says that ‘it is impossible to obtain the intervals of their scale on our keyed instruments, but they may be perfectly effected on the violin;’ ... and our own ears attest that, universally, in the modulations of the voice of the so-called savage tribes, and in the refined and anomalously studied Chinese, there are intervals which do not correspond to any notes on our keyed instruments, and which to an untrained ear appear almost monotonous.”

“Suffice it to say that many Chinese airs, of which I have two, show the diesic modulation and the saltus combined; but the majority of the New Zealand airs which I have heard are softer and more ‘ligate,’ and have a great predominance of the diesic element.”

“One thing, however, is certain, that, as Aristoxenus tells us, no perfect ear could modulate more than two dieses at a time, and then there was a ‘saltus’ or interval of two tones, and as the New Zealand songs frequently exhibit more than two close intervals together, it is more than probable that many of these songs are achromatic.” [105]

“In proof that a system of modulation like the above still survives, I shall produce as nearly as my ear could discern, the modulation of some of the New Zealand melodies. ...

“I here beg to state, that though with great care and the assistance of a graduated monochord, and an instrument divided like the intervals of the Chinese kin, I have endeavoured to give an idea of those airs of New Zealand which I heard, yet so difficult is it to discover the exact interval, that I will not vouch for the mathematical exactness. ... I must also, in justice to myself, add, that the singer did not always repeat the musical phrase with precisely the same modulation, though without a very severe test this would not have been discernible, nor then to many ears, the general effect being to an European ear very monotonous. But I may say that, when I sang them from my notation, they were recognised and approved of by competent judges, and that the New Zealander himself said, ‘he should soon make a singer of me.’”340

Mr. Davies has also, in his letter, given some of our Maori New Zealand songs, set by him to music, as examples.

I may here also mention, that one of the earliest scientific visitors to New Zealand, Dr. Forster, who accompanied Captain Cook on his second voyage, has left a statement on record of a similar kind. Here is a short quotation from it, given, partly on account of the learned German’s feeling and truthful deduction therefrom, and partly because his valuable work is scarcely known in the Colony. (And, to the everlasting honour of the good Doctor, it is to be further noted, that he does this immediately after relating several acts of killing and cannibalism perpetrated by the New Zealanders on Europeans, among which was the very recent one, in which ten seamen belonging to Captain Cook’s expedition were killed, etc., so that Dr. Forster did not allow his reason to be carried away by his feelings.) He says,—“The music of the New Zealanders is far superior in variety to that of the Society and Friendly Islands. ... The same intelligent friend who favoured me with a specimen of the songs at Tongatapu, has likewise given me another of the New Zealand music; and has also assured me that there appeared to be some display of genius in the New Zealand tunes, which soared very far above the wretched humming of the Tahitian, or even the four notes of the people at the Friendly Islands.” (Two specimens of their tunes set to musical notes are then given.) “The same gentleman likewise took notice of a kind of dirge-like melancholy song, relating to the death of Tupaea.” (The musical notes of this, with the words, are also given.) [106]

“They descend at the close from c to the octave below in a fall, resembling the sliding of a finger along the finger-board of a violin. I shall now dismiss this subject with the following observation,—that the taste for music of the New Zealanders, and their superiority in this respect to other nations in the South Seas, are to me stronger proofs in favour of their heart, than all the idle eloquence of philosophers in their cabinets can invalidate.”— Forster’s Voyage, vol. II., pp. 476–478.


1878 On the ignorance of the ancient New Zealanders of the use of projectile weapons.
Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 11: 106-118.

[Read before the Hawke Bay Philosophical Institute, 9th September, 1878.]

I have read Mr. G. Phillips’ paper “On a peculiar Method of Arrow Propulsion amongst the Maoris,”341 and as Mr. Phillips has referred to a very brief remark made by me in my essay “On the Maori Races,”342 and is evidently unacquainted with the old state of things which obtained in this country with regard to missiles, I have thought it right to say a few words on this subject in this paper.

First, however, I would briefly remark, that in my writing that essay I appended thereto a quantity of “Notes,” all elucidatory of many of the statements I had made therein. Somehow those “Notes” were not printed with the essay—a matter I have greatly deplored, for it was wholly incomplete without them. Had they been printed with it, then Mr. Phillips would have found related the circumstance which gave rise to my remark quoted by him, of the New Zealanders “throwing fiery-headed darts at a pa (or fort) when attacking it.” That note I shall give in this paper further on.

It should be perfectly well known to us all that the first European visitors to New Zealand found the people utterly without the bow and arrow, and the sling, and, indeed, the common frequent use of the small dart or javelin, as an offensive projectile weapon. And all of those early visitors had ample opportunities of knowing this, for they were often attacked themselves by the New Zealanders, both on land and on water, when such missile weapons were never once used.

At the same time it should be observed, that whenever a canoe, or a body of natives, came up with Cook, whether at sea or on land, and were for fighting, a single spear was invariably thrown; this, however, was by way of challenge (taki), and was in accordance with their national custom; just equal to the old European one of throwing down the gage.

This non-use of prepared missiles appeared the more strange to the Europeans, from the fact of such weapons (slings and darts) being commonly [107] used as weapons of attack in the South Sea Islands, which Cook and his companions had but lately left. While the use of the bow and arrow, for sport, was also known to some of those islanders.

Captain Wallis, who discovered Tahiti in 1767 (two years before Cook first visited it and New Zealand), was fiercely attacked by the Tahitians, who surrounded his ship with “a fleet of more than 300 canoes, carrying 2,000 men.” On that occasion (when Wallis was in danger, and only saved by his big guns), the islanders commonly used powerful slings, with which they did some execution even in a ship of war. Captain Wallis says:— “The canoes pulled towards the ship’s stern, and began again to throw stones with great force and dexterity, by the help of slings, from a considerable distance; each of these stones weighed about 2lbs., and many of them wounded the people on board, who would have suffered much more if an awning had not been spread over the whole deck to keep out the sun, and the hammocks placed in the nettings.” Their bows and arrows, however, they did not use on that occasion during the fight. Further on Captain Wallis adds:—“Their principal weapons are stones, thrown either with the hand or sling, and bludgeons; for though they have bows and arrows, the arrows are only fit to knock down a bird, none of them being pointed, but headed only with a round stone.”343

Sydney Parkinson, who was with Cook on his first voyage, gives a drawing of the Tahitian sling (Pl. 13, fig. 1), and a description of it. He says:—“Their sling is about four feet long, made of plaited twine, formed from the fibres of the bark of a tree; the part which holds the stone is woven very close, and looks like cloth, from which the string gradually tapers to a point.”344

Captain Cook, in 1769, thus speaks of the use of the bow and arrow by those Tahitians:—“Their bows and arrows have not been mentioned before, nor were they often brought down to the fort. This day, however, Tupurahi Tamaiti brought down his, in consequence of a challenge he had received from Mr. Gore. The chief supposed it was to try who could send the arrow farthest; Mr. Gore, who best could hit a mark, and as Mr. Gore did not value himself upon shooting to a great distance, nor the chief upon hitting a mark, there was no trial of skill between them. Tupurahi, however, to show us what he could do, drew his bow and sent an arrow, none of which are feathered, 274 yards, which is something more than a seventh and something less than a sixth part of a mile. Their manner of shooting is somewhat singular; they kneel down, and the moment the arrow is discharged drop the bow.”345 [108]

And this is what he says respecting the New Zealanders, after having been some time among them:—“The perpetual hostility in which these poor savages live has necessarily caused them to make every village a fort. ... These people have neither sling nor bow. They throw the dart by hand, and so they do stones; but darts and stones are seldom used except in defending their forts. ... But it is very strange that the same invention and diligence which have been used in the construction of places so admirably adapted to defence, almost without tools, should not, when urged by the same necessity, have furnished them with a single missile weapon, except the lance, which is thrown by hand; they have no contrivance like a bow to discharge a dart, nor anything like a sling to assist them in throwing a stone, which is the more surprising, as the invention of slings, and bows and arrows, is much more obvious than of the works which these people construct, and both these weapons are found among much ruder nations, and in almost every other part of the world. The points of their long lances are barbed, and they handle them with such strength and agility that we can match them with no weapon but a loaded musquet.”346

Sydney Parkinson has an excellent remark on this subject (excellent in more ways than one), which I also quote, in the hope that future writers on “the whence of the Maori,” will take a note of it. He says—“Something has already been mentioned respecting the language of the New Zealanders, and of its affinity with that of the people of Tahiti, which is a very extraordinary circumstance, and leads us to conclude that one place was originally peopled from the other, though they are at near 2000 miles distance. ... The migration was probably from New Zealand to Tahiti, as the inhabitants of New Zealand were totally unacquainted with the use of bows and arrows till we first taught them, whereas the people of Tahiti use them with great dexterity, having, doubtless, discovered the use of them by some accident after their separation; and it cannot be supposed that the New Zealanders would have lost so beneficial an acquisition if they had ever been acquainted with it.”347

It must not be overlooked that two Tahitians (Tupaea and his son Taiota) were with them on this occasion. Tupaea not only aided the English considerably as interpreter, but was often facile princeps during the whole of their long stay among the New Zealanders. So, again, on Cook’s second voyage from Tahiti to New Zealand, he had on board a native of Porapora (one of the Society Isles), named Mahine, who came on with him to New Zealand. [109]

Dr. Forster, who accompanied Cook on his second voyage round the world, has given us a full account of the weapons of the people of Tanna, an island they discovered and spent some time at on their third voyage from Tahiti to New Zealand. There, at Tanna, not only darts and slings were used in warfare, but also bows and arrows. And, again, subsequently, when at New Caledonia (which island Cook also discovered during that voyage), Dr. Forster gives another interesting account of the very peculiar manner in which those natives threw their darts, and, also, their prepared stones from slings.348

Mr. Nicholas, who was in New Zealand with Mr. Marsden in 1814, and who spent several months in the country travelling about, and seeing all that was to be seen, saw no projectile weapon used by the natives save their common hand spears. And Major Cruise, during his ten months’ residence, is also equally silent about any missiles used by them in their warfare, although as a military officer, in command of soldiers, anything of that kind would be sure to have attracted his notice.

We gather the same from Rutherford’s Journal. This witness had ample opportunities during his long sojourn of ten years among the New Zealanders, during which time he got fully tattooed and lived wholly à-la-Maori, in his frequent travellings with the Maoris from place to place in the interior, and from his having been a witness of several severe and bloody battles. Curiously enough, Rutherford was at the great battle fought at Kaipara between the Ngatiwhatua and the Ngapuhi tribes, in which the savage and murderous chief Hongi was present, commanding the Ngapuhi, and in which fierce battle Hongi’s son, Hare, was slain, and his head, with others, carried off in triumph by Rutherford’s Maori party from the East Coast; that battle was fought in the year 1825. Rutherford is in many respects a truthful witness, as I have good reasons for saying, having formerly traced out not a few of his statements. To the above I might add the uniform testimony of all the first missionaries, who saw quite enough of bloody work; and of Polack,349 who resided a few years in New Zealand; [110] but I will here close with my own, and that for two reasons: 1. That I had early travelled more than any one in New Zealand (the North Island), leaving few spots unvisited, and had used my eyes and ears in so travelling; and that I had also witnessed their manner of fighting and of attack; 2. That it was our custom at an early date (1834–1840), seeing we were but few then in number in the land, and could not possibly go everywhere—to collect young Maoris from all parts, and to teach them at our principal mission stations in the Bay of Islands, and then, when taught, return them to their homes and tribes; and that many of our Maori servants and labourers, amounting to some scores, or hundreds, were from those who had been taken young in war (of whom a large number we got liberated and returned to their homes), and from them I had often their vivid and interesting recitals of those battles and sieges, with every minutiæ; and my own testimony is this (the same indeed as that of Cook and others) that the New Zealander never knew the use of the bow and arrow, nor of the sling proper, as used, for instance, by the natives of Tahiti.

As to the use of the little instrument called a kotaha (sometimes a kopere, though, more properly speaking, the kopere was that by which the kotaha was thrown.”) I have ever had very grave doubts of its being a true New Zealand implement; for the endeavour to learn something about it (when first prosecuting my enquiries 40–45 years ago) always ended in disappointment. On this head I could say a good deal, but for the present I forbear.

Here, however, are a few things that should not be lost sight of in this investigation: 1. That in all those old Maori tales of fightings and battles and sieges, and especially the killing of monsters (taniwhas, some of which I have lately translated), while every possible weapon known to the old Maori, both of offence and defence, including even walking-sticks, is always carefully noticed, nothing of the kind in question (missiles) save plain common hand-spears, are ever mentioned;350 and yet, for those very purposes, no other weapon would have been so useful. 2. That just as the old New Zealanders were early taught how to use the bow and arrow (and, no doubt, the sling also, by Tupaea and Taiota), as Parkinson says, so were they in after years taught how to make and use the bow and arrow, by myself and other of the early missionaries, as implements of sport for the boys, both of the mission families and of the Maori families living with us. I have made several for them, but the young Maoris of that day never took to it, from the fact of its not being a national weapon, and not falling in with the genius of the Maori. 3. That from the beginning of this century, or even earlier, the New Zealanders went often abroad in ships as visitors, [111] especially to New South Wales; indeed, a very extensive intercourse was then and for many years carried on between Port Jackson and New Zealand, partly owing to the whale and seal fishery.351 4. That on Mr. Marsden’s visit (1814) several foreigners were residing in New Zealand; mention is particularly made, among others, of a Tahitian,352 and a Hindoo, who were dwelling with the Maoris as Maoris, and who had quite made this country their home, without a wish to leave it; Major Cruise also, in 1819, found a native of the Marquesas353 Islands fairly settled among them; and that for many years convicts from the neighbouring penal colonies were continually escaping thence to New Zealand. 5. That from 1820–1840 young New Zealanders were frequently entering whale-ships and other vessels, to serve on cruises in the South Seas, several of whom returned to their native country and settled. 6. That during several years, after the arrival of the missionaries and before the formation of the colony, many harbours in New Zealand, and the Bay of Islands in particular, were the common resort of American, Colonial, and other whalers, whose crews were composed of men of many nations and of all colours; and among them were often natives from the East, including China and the South Sea Islands, some of whom settled in New Zealand, and no doubt many of them taught the New Zealander not a few novel things. 7. Two old sayings of the Maoris bearing on this subject I would also adduce:—1. Their terse old proverb, “He tao rakau ka taea te pare, he tao küekore e taea”—a wooden spear can be parried,354 a slanderous word355 cannot be parried. Now, if any other more destructive missile were known and in use among them, than the common hand-spear, surely such would have been preferred here. 2. Their saying, on the introduction of fire-arms, and for a long time after, that the only thing they disliked them for was, that by them the warrior fell as well as the slave at a distance,356 before that the hand-to-hand fight begun:357 another proof that deadly missiles acting at a distance were not known. (8) Further, in all their very many proverbs and sayings there is no allusion to any such thing.

My own opinion has long been, that the old New Zealanders (ever quick and able imitators, especially in any matter connected with warfare), having early had lessons from the Tahitian, Tupaea (whom they all but adored) and his son, Taiota, and also on Cook’s second voyage from Tahiti to New Zealand, from Mahine, the native of Porapora, in the arts of fashioning and using projectiles, perhaps endeavoured to adopt them, and [112] possibly did so to a certain poor extent; but the great facility with which they very soon acquired firearms caused them to set those missiles aside. What they might have done and perfected, having once been put into the way, had they remained isolated and not obtained muskets, is another matter.

I have been led to make all these almost extra remarks through noticing what was said by a Mr. Grace at the time of the reading of Mr. Phillips’ paper, as reported (I am sorry to find) in the “Proceedings” (Vol. X., p. 527). Mr. Grace might equally as well have said, that because he had always seen the Maoris playing at draughts, or growing and eating melons, peaches, and potatoes, ergo, such were indigenous! Such observations tend to mislead (being wholly erroneous), and will mislead still more in the future unless refuted; hence, in great measure, I now write to such an extent. It is from such superficial remarks that the works of Tylor, Lubbock, and Herbert Spencer, and others, become of less value than they would otherwise be, through everything being gathered and admitted as of equal authority!

And just so it is (I regret to say) with some of the remarks made by Mr. Phillips himself in this very paper; i.e., in my estimation they are deceiving, because they assume the very thing we are in search of—“the whence of the Maori?”—a problem by no means yet proved. Yet Mr. Phillips says:—“I have often wondered how it is that the aborigines of New Zealand should have made so little use of the bow and arrow, this being a weapon peculiarly suited to savage tribes, and, moreover, the familiar one of their ancestors.” (Where did Mr. Phillips get this?) Again, speaking of the toy-arrow he had been describing, he says:—“In itself it is a harmless weapon, and how it happens that the Maoris, a section of the Polynesian race, should have thus allowed so useful a weapon as the South Sea bow and arrow to degenerate into a mere toy,358 is to me a curious circumstance.” (S. Parkinson’s remark on this very point, already quoted by me at p. 108, made a hundred years ago, is far more rational every way; but then Parkinson, although he had seen more, had no preconception, no pet hobby to support!) Further, Mr. Phillips says:—“It is well-known (?) that in olden days the Maoris launched their spears against a hostile fort by means of a whip, similar to the one above described, and they were even able to hurl stones a long distance.” (Whence, too, is this derived?) Lastly, Mr. Phillips winds up his paper by saying:—“All these weapons, however, fell into disuse after the introduction of fire-arms some sixty years ago, which may account for the disappearance of the bow and arrow.” To which statement, I trust, this paper will be found a complete answer. [113]

Mr. Phillips also gives an account of a “pigeon spear,” made out of a rough unworked piece of a “raataa vine.”(!) Just so; that is the poor modern spear, hastily put together by the lazy, loquacious, itinerating Maori of modern days! but such make-shifts were not (commonly) used by his forefathers, although I have seen them359 stored up in the mountain forests; they were far above it.360 And then follows the novel idea of “trapping the brown parrot by means of a shorter hand-spear.”(!) As if parrots were ever caught in that way! The Maoris had but one general mode of taking the parrot (kaakaa), which was admirably adapted and serviceable, and is still in use in the dense forests of the interior.

My Note, referred to at p. 106, is as follows:—“Note 7, par. 15, § 2.—Travelling beyond the East Cape in January, 1838, I arrived at Waipiro (Open Bay), and striking inland over high hills reached a place called Tapatahi, where were the remains of a famous stronghold or pa of the olden time. This fort is strongly situated on the abrupt precipitous end of a high hilly yet narrow range, and made impregnable by art; the only possible way of access leading from the top of the ridge, but this the Maoris had completely secured by cutting a deep fosse across it. The Ngatimaru tribe, arriving in their canoes from the North, well armed with muskets for the purpose of slaughter, the people of this neighbourhood took refuge in their stronghold on the crag, where they were regularly besieged. Several hundreds of Maoris were cooped up in it, and for some time the place was closely invested; and though provisions fell short among them there was no outlet of escape. The besiegers getting both tired and hungry (!)—for the entrance end of the fort was made so high above the deep-cut fosse that musketry could effect nothing, unless any one of the besieged wilfully exposed himself—at last the besiegers hit upon a mode of attack and assault which proved successful; they prepared sticks with dry combustibles fastened to one of their ends, while to the other was tied a strip of flax-leaf, and the wind being favourable, they set fire to them, and then whirled and flung those flaming darts across the ditch into the pa, where, alighting on the dry thatch roofs of the houses and sheds, the whole was soon on fire; then, in the confusion, the assault was made, under cover of their muskets, and the slaughter was very great, even for a successful Maori attack! Many of the unfortunate besieged threw themselves down the precipice in sheer desperation, and only a very small number escaped with their lives. There is a small moat or pool of deep water close to the base of the precipice on one [114] side, and possibly a lucky few might have fallen into it, and so broke the force of their fall. The whole spot is a most romantic one naturally, and at the time of my visit it was desolate and bare—a sad and striking memento of the horrid past!”

The, Editor of the “Transactions,” in a note of his own appended to Mr. Phillips’ paper, refers us to three works, viz.:—

1. Sir G. Grey’s “Polynesian Mythology,” p. 157. The single case there mentioned is said to have taken place in the very beginning of Maori history, and was just simply the whirling of a fire-brand on to a thatched roof, much the same as the circumstance above related from my Notes.

2. Dr. Thomson’s “Story of New Zealand,” Vol. I., chap. 7. In this relation (as well as in several other places in his book) there is much of error, as must always be the case with all modern compilers who may follow in the Doctor’s wake; for (1) Dr. Thomson has completely ignored all that was written by Cook and others,361 although he has given a list of their works, and the question has often arisen in my mind, did Dr. Thomson ever read them? (2) Knowing nothing himself personally of the matters in question, he copied freely, and picked up and set down all that he heard, too often hastily drawing conclusions. Hence it was that he says of their projectiles—“Occasionally red hot stones were thrown from slings in the hope of setting pas on fire; so were slight javelins, sharp and jagged at the point; occasionally they were pointed with bone, or the barb of the stingray; these were discharged by slings from elevated platforms, etc. Bows and arrows were not unknown, though never used in war.” (Vol. I., ch. 7.)

3. Mr. White’s new work, “Te Rou,” is one of fiction, and his long note, referred to by the Editor, is suited to it; it is of no use here.

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